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Songs you played as a fledgling guitarist

SuckafishSuckafish Registered User regular
edited April 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I have an acoustic and an electric guitar, have put time in practicing scales, chords, and simple songs from a lessons book. Now I'm ready to start challenging myself with some music that isn't newbie versions of Joy to the World or Greensleeves.

The trouble I'm having is finding songs that will challenge me, but are not well beyond my current abilities.

List songs that you found were great to play when you were first starting to become comfortable with the guitar. Songs from that time period where you first started to feel like you were moving beyond the basics and actually playing some decent music.

For me, Wish You Were Here and House of the Rising Sun (http://www.guitarnoise.com/article.php?id=57) have both been great. The electric guitar is my new toy, so I'm more interested in suggestions for that, but by all means list any songs you played.

Suckafish on

Posts

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2007
    I had a guitar teacher that would just figure out any tracks I brought in on CD by ear and then teach them to me, so most of the stuff I played was things I was listening to at the time like Oasis, Cast and Jimmy Hendrix. He taught me a bit of blues scales and stuff too, that's always fun.

  • SixSix Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I think the first song my guitar teacher ever taught me was House of the Rising Sun. Also Funk #49 by the James Gang.

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  • reddogreddog Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    My father taught me always by ear, never went by a book before. I started off with scales and arpeggios and then went on to a few classical pieces. Then I just started to venture off to just listen to the radio and play what I heard. It becomes easy once you know the neck of the guitar...most of the chord progressions become a pattern and you'll learn where to go.

    I say just turn on the radio or put on a CD and listen to the guitars and then try to find the chord progression, the notes, etc. It's fun. One of the first songs I was so proud to figure out on my own was Dee by Randy Rhoads. Great feeling.

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    On the other hand, a lot of guitar on the radio/in popular music is pretty simple and not very challenging. Is the OP looking for a particular genre?

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  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Yeah, the OP would be best served by mentioning the type of music he listens to and/or would like to play. Nearly every genre has plenty of songs that can fit the bill; no sense forcing you into Brown-Eyed Girl when you want to learn Ring of Fire.

    As for me, I was a big fan of 90s alternative rock when I picked up guitar so I mostly figured out those kind of songs. I had to cheat a bit and change some keys around, but I eventually got to the point where I could pretty much play through the entirety of Siamese Dream using nothing but open chords and a few easy barre chords.

    You might want to run down to Barnes & Noble (doesn't have to be a fancy music store) and pick up a 'fake book' in their music section. These are big books with tons of popular songs, that give you the chords and the lyrics and help you "fake" your way through the songs. Nothing too fancy (some of them don't even have tabs) and you should be able to pick out some songs to your satisfaction.

  • Rabid_LlamaRabid_Llama Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Blues guitar has a lot of variety in difficulty. I recommend checking out some Stevie Ray Vaughn as his stuff sounds great and some isn't all that difficult to play.

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  • SpackleSpackle Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Hmmm the first song I learned on my guitar was 'Symphony of Destruction' by Megadeth. Like you I had already been practicing various excersices from basic strum patterns to fast alt picking palm mutes. It's fun to learn and a blast to play still.

    Iron Maiden also has some really fun tunes, especially 'The Trooper'.

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  • MishraMishra Registered User
    edited April 2007
    I've only been playing for a year or so and am currently working through More Than a Feeling, Peace of Mind, Ziggy Stardust and Message in a Bottle. They all have a little something to teach you and aren't actually to hard Plus they're fun to play and you can use guitar hero to rip a lead-less version of the track to play along with.

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  • SuckafishSuckafish Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Genres: classic rock, some older alternative and grunge, lighter heavy metal, hell, even some of the more mainstream punk from the 90s would be fine. I'd also love to be able to play some classical music on the electric guitar, but don't feel I have the skill for that yet. GnR, Pink Floyd, older Pearl Jam and STP, most of the stuff you'd hear in the guitar hero games, ...

    I'm not very good at playing by ear, so my approach so far has been to buy a book that includes tab, flip to a song I like, try to play it, and more often then not get frustrated at the difficulty level. Part of the problem may be picking up books that transcribe notes as the song is actually performd, rather than making modifications for novice players.

  • SuckafishSuckafish Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Mishra wrote: »
    I've only been playing for a year or so and am currently working through More Than a Feeling, Peace of Mind, Ziggy Stardust and Message in a Bottle. They all have a little something to teach you and aren't actually to hard Plus they're fun to play and you can use guitar hero to rip a lead-less version of the track to play along with.

    How do you find Ziggy Stardust? Do you have a link to the tab that you use, or is it a book or playing by ear?

  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Suckafish wrote: »
    I'm not very good at playing by ear, so my approach so far has been to buy a book that includes tab, flip to a song I like, try to play it, and more often then not get frustrated at the difficulty level. Part of the problem may be picking up books that transcribe notes as the song is actually performd, rather than making modifications for novice players.
    FAKE BOOK FAKE BOOK FAKE BOOK

  • SuckafishSuckafish Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    whuppins wrote: »
    Suckafish wrote: »
    I'm not very good at playing by ear, so my approach so far has been to buy a book that includes tab, flip to a song I like, try to play it, and more often then not get frustrated at the difficulty level. Part of the problem may be picking up books that transcribe notes as the song is actually performd, rather than making modifications for novice players.
    FAKE BOOK FAKE BOOK FAKE BOOK

    I'll take a look next time I'm in a book store. I think I would rather play easy songs properly than a dumbed-down tougher song, but it's worth a shot.

  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Suckafish wrote: »
    whuppins wrote: »
    Suckafish wrote: »
    I'm not very good at playing by ear, so my approach so far has been to buy a book that includes tab, flip to a song I like, try to play it, and more often then not get frustrated at the difficulty level. Part of the problem may be picking up books that transcribe notes as the song is actually performd, rather than making modifications for novice players.
    FAKE BOOK FAKE BOOK FAKE BOOK

    I'll take a look next time I'm in a book store. I think I would rather play easy songs properly than a dumbed-down tougher song, but it's worth a shot.
    Sorry, that last sentence that I quoted made it seem that 'modifications' (AKA 'dumbing down') was what you wanted. In any event, a fake book does not contain dumbed-down versions, nor is it intended for novices, as its wikipedia entry will tell you. It's intended for musicians who haven't studied/memorized the sheet music (or in this case, the tab) for a piece, but they know how it goes, more or less, and can bang it out if given the basic chord changes. From there, the performer is free to embellish as much or as little as he wants. IMO, it's a good starting point that lets you progress at your own pace toward a more fully realized version of the song.

    As far as actual song recommendations, it depends on the type of playing you want to do, but here are some off the top of my head.

    If you're doing power chords, Buddy Holly by Weezer is great fun. Pretty much all power chords, but it does require some dexterity as they jump around a bit. The bridge can still be challenging for me these days if my left hand is being lazy and/or slow. There are even some lead parts you can pick out (in the pre-chorus, for example) and have fun with.

    If you want to do a fingerpicking deal, maybe Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead. The left-hand part isn't very complicated (Am/Em/C progressions with your ring and index fingers moving around), but it's good exercise for your right hand, no matter how you play it. Also, You've Got Her In Your Pocket by the White Stripes might challenge you without being too hard.

    I know it's not a very well-known song, but if you just want to do some strummin', try the Butthole Surfers' The Wooden Song. The chorus might be a little tough, but the verses contain your basic chords with a few little variations that are good exercise and make it sound like you know what the fuck you're doing.

    For lead guitar, Nirvana is good for some nice solos that don't have too much wankery in them. I think the Sappy solo is the first electric guitar solo I ever learned. For more complicated stuff, try Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson -- I know, I know, it's a virtuoso piece of guitar work, but don't worry about playing as fast as him or playing the entire song. Just start by trying to learn the chorus -- it's pretty catchy. Honestly, if you can master any part of Cliffs of Dover, at any speed, you will have learned a lot about lead guitar techniques.

    The last one I can think of (and here I reveal my true geek nature) is Ride On Shooting Star by The Pillows, known to most of us here in the US as the theme from the FLCL anime. I know what you're thinking, but The Pillows are actually a really good band IMO, playing good old-fashioned down-to-earth guitar rock like Dinosaur Jr. or old Matthew Sweet. Ride On Shooting Star is a good mix of lead playing and power chords and it will keep your hands moving if you want it to sound good. It's not complicated, though, and it sounds really good even without accompaniment.

    Hope these help. I can probably think of a few more if any of these are the kind of thing you were looking for.

    Edit: I just noticed you mentioned STP in your earlier post. You might want to look up the tabs for Meatplow or Plush and try 'em out. Like most of the old STP, they're power-chord heavy and may be a little on the easy side, but they do have some neat little things that'll keep your fingers limber. Now that I think of it, most of the songs on Purple are kind of like this.

  • chuck steakchuck steak Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Jack Johnson and Ben Harper taught me how to play the guitar. Forever and Burn One Down by Ben Harper are probably right in your difficulty range, and they're fun to play because you get the full effect of the song with just an acoustic. Jack Johnson has a nice range of really easy to moderately difficult songs and most also just need an acoustic. Do You Realize by The Flaming Lips has got to be my favourite easy song to play though. Whenever I'm frustrated with the guitar and feel like I suck I rock this song out and immediately feel like I could be a rock star. Waiting For You by Ben Harper has a nice solo that's fun to play in it. The intro to Over the Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin is really fun to play too, and not too hard. Oh yeah, Tangerine is also a good Zep song for noobs.

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  • iTunesIsEviliTunesIsEvil Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I started with lots of Nirvana... Polly pretty much goes (oh God, I'm so rusty) E, G, D, C for the verses, and D,C,G,Am for the chorus... Some very easy nice chords to play there, and the rhythm is not at all complicated.

  • SamSam Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    One cool thing to do is learn the pentatonic scales and then see how many of your favorite solos are based around them. It's probably going to be something like, I don't know, all of them.

  • DynamiteKidDynamiteKid Registered User
    edited April 2007
    If you can play WYWH, you can play most Pink Floyd. Their songs often sound complex and layered, but like...even 'Fletcher Memorial Home,' a song done almost entirely by an orchestra, is basically just G and C and D and those basic chords. Almost all of Roger Waters' songs are those chords and a lot of Gilmour's are too. Pick your favourite Floyd songs outside of 'Shine On' and they'll probably be very easy to play.

    Plus, the obvious one is Bob Dylan, who has probably got twenty songs better than anything you'll ever write out of G, A and D, twenty more for G, C and D, etc.

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  • romanqwertyromanqwerty Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I am also a self taught guitarist and my advice is play stuff you love.
    http://www.ultimate-guitar.com
    This is a great website and i taught myself guitar by basically picking a song i'd heard on the radio or whatnot and searched for a tab for it. You'd be surprised how many songs have both easy (simple open or power chords) or also hard tabs where u fingerpick or hit differant parts of the chords.

  • OhioOhio Registered User
    edited April 2007
    This is interesting because I just started taking guitar lessons 3 months ago. I'm learning on an acoustic. It is a pretty hard guitar to play. Here are the songs my teacher's been teaching me, in order:

    1. Cream - Sunshine of my Love
    2. Metallica - (just the opening part of) One
    3. Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water
    4. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (main theme and first solo)
    5. The Beatles - Polythene Pam
    6. The Beatles - Day Tripper

    My teacher seems like he knows what he's doing. All these songs have taught me something different.

    I haven't learned all these songs in their entirety, just parts that are valuable for teaching. Although this week I should learn the solo to Day Tripper and then I'll know the complete song.

  • SuckafishSuckafish Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm going to start with Meatplow and Ziggy Stardust (if I'm feeling brave, it looks tough in spots), but will be back to this thread for sure.

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